A sharp knife is a must-have in the kitchen. It makes cutting more effortless, and you will need it to complete any dish. Most importantly, a sharp knife makes your work safer in the kitchen. Now, if it is the first time you are sharpening your knife, you may either do it wrong and damage your favorite knife or go through this guide and do it right the first time.
Many tools exist to sharpen a knife, but true kitchen masters take pride in using a rod. Now, how to sharpen a kitchen knife with a rod? Here are tips and a guide on how to use a rod to sharpen your chef knife
Tips for Using a Rod
If you have a set of the best knives in your kitchen, congratulations; you are officially getting into the cooking business. Now, a kitchen is where food comes from. And to make good recipes, you usually need good tools for preparation, as well as skills.
Part of what you need are sharp knives. Usually, when you buy a knife set, you also get a rod that looks like a metallic lightsaber.
If you cannot yet use the rod, your knives are probably not in their best condition.
Here are a few guides and tips on how to sharpen a kitchen knife with a rod:
- If you use a rod to sharpen your knife, always do it at an angle. It could be 15° for Japanese and 20° for Western knives.
- Care for the rod by using a damp kitchen roll or a damp cloth to wipe off the tiny bits of steel left behind after sharpening your knife.
- Never get oil on the rod, or touch it with your fingers. If you leave oil on the rod, you can remove it using a washing-up liquid.
Types of Sharpening Rods
Preparing food with blunt knives is no walk in the park. That is why you need a good sharpening tool in your kitchen. Most sharpening rods act to realign the knife’s blade and redefine its shape. As you prepare to get a sharpening tool in your kitchen, there are a few things to consider. These include:
Material of the rod: Most sharpening steels have a metal core. The core gives the rod its solid nature, suitable for sharpening your knife. However, the knife’s abrasiveness depends on the steel’s coating. The coating can either be:
- Diamond- the hardest and most abrasive type
- Ceramic- suitable for fine and precise sharpening
- Steel- comes in standard grit for hard cut sharpening, a fine grit for professional knives, and ultra-fine grit for honing.
The shape of the rod: The sharpening rod comes in different shapes. These include:
- Round- has a standard contact surface. It is lighter, thus making sharpening easier and simpler.
- Oval- contact surface is bigger, hence more suitable for inexperienced users
- Flat rod- with an even bigger contact surface, thus, easier to use. However, it is usually heavier.
- Square- has 2 levels of sharpening. Usually, 2 faces have a certain grit, and the other 2 sides have a different grit. So, you can get a standard and fine grit on the same sharpening rod.
Size of the rod: A shorter sharpening rod will be uncomfortable using a longer blade. So, you should consider getting a sharpening rod that matches the size of your knife’s blade. Usually, the rod length should match your blade’s size.
The hardness of the blade: The blade’s hardness determines the sharpening rod’s abrasiveness. The harder the blade, the more abrasive your sharpening rod should be.
A Quick Guide to Sharpening your Knife with a Rod
After getting the perfect sharpening rod for your kitchen, it is time you learn how to use it properly. You can use 3 methods to sharpen your knife. Here is how to do it like a pro:
Method 1: Bench method
The bench method involves using the rod to sharpen your knife when the rod is etched vertically on a counter. It is the safest, most precise, and easiest way to use a sharpening rod.
- When using your sharpening rod, hold it vertically. Your non-dominant hand should be on the handle while the dominant hand holds the knife.
- Plant the rod firmly on the counter, so it does not slide sideways.
- Place the blade on the rod, with the knife blade pointing slightly upwards.
- Arch the knife on the rod to 15° for Japanese knives and 20° for Western knives, away from the steel rod
- Add a little pressure on the blade
- While maintaining the pressure, slide the blade down the length of the rod in a sweeping motion
The middle of the blade should meet with the middle of the rod and the blade’s tip with the rod’s bottom.
- Repeat step IV-VI for 4-5 strokes on each side of the blade in alternating passes
Method 2: Body-Braced Method
Here, you hold the end of the handle against your body for more stability and control.
- Hold the sharpening rod comfortable against your body
- Place the knife at 15° for Japanese knives and 20° for Western knives, away from the steel
- Sweep the knife’s edge down, along the rod, and away from the handle. The sweep involves the knife’s heel close to the handle and the tip at the bottom of the rod.
- Repeat the sweeping for 4-5 passes on each side
Method 3: The Freehand Method
This is the most common method among seasoned chefs and cooks.
- With your non-dominant hand, hold the rod in front of you
- Arch the blade of the knife at an angle, away from the steel
- Sweep the knife’s edge down the rod, with the heel of the knife on the tip of the rod and the tip of the blade on the handle of the sharpening rod
- Repeat for about 5-6 passes on each side of the blade.
A sharp knife is the key to a better cooking experience and faster food prep. It is also better for your food, leaving it fresher for longer. Most importantly, a sharp knife is easier to use in the kitchen. A sharpening rod will help you sharpen and realign your blade in the kitchen simultaneously. So, this guide on how to sharpen a kitchen with a rod will help you get to the next level with your knife skills.
Read more blog: How to prevent cuts in the kitchen